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Full text of "Fancie's Farewell"

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114 



THE ALDINE. 



FANCIE'S FAREWELL. 

The last day of winter came for Lolly Dinks this 
year ; for me, too, and for Fancie. Soon the last day 
in our city-house will come, and we shall all be going 
up and down the countr)', as gay and crooked in our 
paths as the butterfl)'-'s flight over the fields and 
thickets. 

Last night the pale, golden-haired poet, Milton, 
turned his old, green arm-chair round, and I heard 
him say: 

" Fancy then returns into her private cell 
When nature rests." 

He shone like a cloud with a silver lining in his 
dark dress ; the bookcase door clapped to, and I saw 
a row of silent books, merelj'-. I understood why 
Fancie wanted to come to town. In the long, stern, 
cold sleep. of Nature, behind the mask of snow and 
ice, what would have become of her if left out of 
doors? There is nothing but seed vessels for her 
to travel over the country in. The leaves are dead 
and brittle, the briars sharp and dry, the berries hard 
and tasteless ; nothing green in the woods but the 
solitary holly-bush, which the Christ-child keeps alive 
for Christmas, and the ground-pine, which softly 
creeps below the leaf mould, twisting its green ropes 
and its pretty feather-shaped leaves yards and yards, 
as if it were a telegraph wire for the moles and other 
creatures who wish to hear from each other promptly. 
Fancie's grandmother lives at the root of an oak, and 
on sunny days she comes out, and sits on the green 
rope, and holds a leaf over her head for a parasol, 
and to keep off the wind. The singing birds have 
flown for the most part over the sea ; a few are hid 
in swamps and tree-trunks. Every flower-root is in 
a fit of somnambulism. The queen could not provide 
Fancie with a private cell ; she did not wish to put 
her out to board in the hut of the field-mouse, or in 
the mole's galler)'. The}' said if she came she must 
go down to the brook to bathe ; they could not bear 
water or air. Therefore, under the pretext of amus- 
ing me, the queen had sent Fancie in the closet. 

" Ah, Missis," cried Fancie, while I was writing this 
on paper, "you have treated me well, and )'ou shall 
see the buds and bells of Maj', the speckled eggs in 
the mossy nests, and you shall see me swing on the 
yellow daffodil, and take a nap inside the lad)'-slipper. 
Mercy, Missis ! what has come ? " 

She hops up my pen-handle, and stretches out her 
neck. 

"Is that the garden of Eden, Missis.' and shall we 
see grandpa Adam again? You know when he 
dropped his first tear in the garden, a fairy ring ap- 
peared in the green sward, and present!)' the first 
fairy rose up. I am not sure he noticed it, for his 
eyes were set upon the arbor where grandma Eve 
was." 

I was not surprised at Fancie's amazement, for she 
saw my flower-ship, which Lord Sutt, a printer, sent 
me in the middle of a moonlight night. A white and 
gold flower-ship, whose hull was filled with the red- 
dest and whitest of flowers. The ship rested upon 
a basin of flowers also, as if she were floating over a 
flowery sea; all round the sea-marge were Egyptian 
Calla lilies, that lolled out their long yellow tongueS' 
as if they were longing for the Nile-bees to come and 
flour themselves in the thick pollen. There were 
roses, carnations, camellias, lilies-of-the-valley, hya- 
cinths ; and the masts and ropes of the ship were 
twined with green smilax. Four little life-boats hung 
from the side of the ship, packed full of violets. 

" Was Lord Sutt born in a chimney? " 

" He was born where Lolly Dinks was born." 

She turned up her nose at the mention of a mere 
little boy, and swaying her arms up and down, pirou- 
etting first on one foot and then on the other, she 
fluttered from the pen towards the flower-ship, and 
lighted upon the gilded ropes of the mainmast. To 
my surprise, she ordered me to open the door of m)' 
goldfinch's cage. I may not have mentioned m)' 
goldfinch, named Bright Eye by Lolly Dinks. He 
is a scoundrel, and if there was a State's prison for 
birds of his feather, he would be there this moment, 
making shoes for his fellow-criminals' claws. Last 
Christmas day he arrived here in a red and green 
cottage, which was hung in the window. He ap- 
peared like a respectable bird, chirped and hopped in 
a lively manner, and interested me so that I decided 
to buy a Mrs. Goldfinch for him. I bought one, and 
put her in his cottage. He nipped her, pulled out 
her feathers, scolded at her, and ^ould not sing a 
note. One day all her feathers stood up, and I knew 
she was heart-broken ; so I took her out of his cot- 



tage, and she died in a short time. As Fancie order- 
ed me, I opened the door, and he flew out to the 
flower-ship, close to her, and began to gnaw the 
gilded ropes. He looked very vain, and declared 
that they were pure gold, much better than the flow- 
ers, and he could scratch off a dollar's worth. 

" Poor, deceived Dr. Watts," said Fancie sadly. 
" Birds have failed me ; I thought they were all live 
flowers — sweet, pure, and innocent — and this little 
wretch talks of dollars. Missis, our queen wants 
me. May I go home in the life-boat here, which is 
full of violets ?" 

" First, my little Fancie, we must bid farewell to 
our friends, and I am afraid to let you go till the ane- 
mone blooms in the bleak woods." 

"I heard the sap sing a week ago; I suppose I 
shall miss the cheese. You can give good-bye for 
me to the friends." 

" Cheese, Fancie, what do you mean ? " 

"And dust, cinders, above all, the human crowd 
smell. I am not quite sure how I can get out of the 
tangle in your air of human speech. Missis, I see a 
thousand curves and threads crossing each other, 
making a great web, that rises and rises like a 
balloon in the sk}'. It is all words, and where is it 
trying to get to? " 

" Heaven, Fancie." 

She looked dull and dumb, and then I recollected 
that fairies have no spirits, and so cannot under- 
stand what the land of souls means. We say, too, 
that animals have no souls, and trees, and flowers. 

Why did not Bright Eye sing, while I kept his new 
mate in his cage ? Why do trees wave so mysteri- 
ousl)' in the wind ? I think the)' are begging to be 
taken from the ground, that they may have the 
chance of making stump speeches in other parts of 
the world. And why do flowers send out odors 
when night comes, even those cut from their stalks 
and put in vases? The feeblest fading rose will send 
a tide of perfume through a room, when he cannot 
stir an inch. But I must change the subject. 

" Fancie, where are you ? " She was not on the 
flower-ship, neither was Bright Eye. She had made 
a bridle of smilax, put it round his neck, and was 
riding on his back up and down m)' new chintz lam- 
brequins. 

" Am I up high enough for your heaven. Missis ? " 
she called. "See me ride the jockey hitch. Bright 
Eye does not gallop at all." 

"Let him fly, .Pancie, and come down quickly; 
something may hurt you," I said. Bright Eye de- 
clared she squeezed his wings so he could not fly. 
She boxed his ears, and lost her hold, and he flut- 
tered softly down to my desk, the gold wire sticking 
to his bill, and Fancie all a-dust with flower-meal. 

"I wanted to try the fields of space first," she said. 
" As I told you, I shall miss everything ; the cockroach 
school. Granny Musculus and her cheese, old Ear- 
wig's shabby trousers — all. They wait for me now." 

" Who waits, my little pet ? " 

She nodded towards the window, and I looked up 
at the roof opposite ; high up in the air on the coping 
stood a row of purple and white pigeons, their heads 
on one side, and their eyes fixed on m)' window. 

"The queen's messengers," whispered Fancie, se- 
riously. I felt a strange flutter near, and for an 
instant I could not see. Fancie spoke again, as if 
she were further off. 

" Your memory of me, by and by, will remind you 
of those colored flakes and sprays of seaweed one 
collects and spreads on paper. I shall be a film in 
\'Our mind. Missis. Farewell, farewell ! " 

I opened my eyes. Far down the street, high up 
in the air, I saw the pigeons flying ; my little Fancie 
was gone. 

" Wh)', mother,," cried Lolly Dinks, " have you 
been smoking a cigar ? Look at your desk." 

Alas, the closet had gone. A tiny cone of white 
ashes stood in its place, which Lolly Dinks with vig- 
orous breath blew away. 

" Now, perhaps, you will come away," he said. " I 
am tired of seeing you scratch with your pen." 

" What will you do without Fancie, Loll)' Dinks ? " 

" I love giants and apes, and what you did when 
you were young best. Tell me, mother, what you did 
in your early life." — Lolly Dinks' s Mother. 



Poets High Born. — It is very singular that no 
one poet should have arisen from the lower classes, 
when it is considered that every peasant who can 
read knows more of books now than old ^schylus, 
Sophocles, or Homer; yet, if we except Burns, none 
such have been. — Coleridge. 



ON AN ISLAND. 

One morning William Nicholson put out from 
shore in his good boat the " Dew Drop," and come 
rain, come shine, he cared not. He fancied that by 
getting away from solid land he would get away from 
misery; and that, whatever might befall him, out was 
better than in. He was not of a hasty temper, nor 
of an unresting spirit. He was steady and strong, and 
good for a long pull, but he must have his freedom ; 
and if one kind of restriction could be worse for him 
than another that particular kind was tormenting 
him. In his journey of life he had hit upon a path 
so narrow, and so difficult, that the probability of a 
precipice, a little further on, was not without attrac- 
tions. 

Had he been on the mainland, just now, he would 
not have pushed the " Dew Drop " from the beach, 
with such a sky overhead. He would have gone to 
the wharf, the market, the street corner, or to some 
bright warm hole under ground, and, among men, 
have talked off his disgust, or displeasure. But he 
could not do that, where he was, for the reason that 
the " Dew Drop Inn " was the only house on the 
island. He was as alone in that unnamed place as 
Adain and Eve were outside the Garden. Who can 
believe that the pair walked off into the wilderness 
and had no misunderstanding by the way? 

When they went out to the island in the spring, 
he, and Sarah and the boys, what hopes had they 1 
Sarah had worked all winter over a sewing-machine, 
and had fallen into the hands of a newspaper-item 
man by her achievements ; but she had lost vastly 
more than she had gained in reputation, or in furni- 
ture. Vital forces had become so impaired, nerves so 
exasperated, that the laziest girl in Cowesport might 
point at her as a witness to the folly of earning fifty 
dollars a week at the cost of poor Body, which was 
thrown into a condition no amount of mere money, 
could repair. 

Sarah's mind was so active — she was in many 
wa)'s so efficient still, this little, round-faced, brown- 
haired, black-eyed woman, that the difficulty was to 
find her a sphere in which she could regain her equi- 
librium. The doctor shook his head when he had 
visited her, not in a professional way, but a:fter a^ 
most sympathizing and affecting. fashion. He saw 
what the ambition of the woman had been, and he 
grieved at the ignorance which had sustained her in 
it at so great a cost. " She is on the direct road to 
the Asylum," he said to William. 

" What Asylum ? " asked the husband, half indigo 
nant, half horrified. The doctor laid his finger on 
his forehead. " Curse the sewing machine ! " cried 
William. 

" Yes," said the doctor, " in the hands of a smart 
woman, who must always go ahead of her neighbors, 
it is a cursed invention. I had a girl on my hands, 
last month, who had brought herself into a condition 
that put sleep or rest out of the question. She lasted: 
so a week, and then died, and I was glad to see her 
breathe her last." 

William covered his face with his hands, and his-, 
soul sank within him. How he had boasted through; 
Cowesport of his wife's feats on the sewing machine !' 
"What shall I do ? " he asked. 

" Could you take her away from everybody — where 
she will have new scenery, new interests, and no 
chance to show off? " 

" I don't see how, or where." 

" Think of it. You ought to be able to make sacri- 
fices for the woman, and the boys." 

" Don't talk about sacrifices. I'll do anything. 

" Take her out of Cowesport then. A general 
ought not to be permitted to stay on the field of his 
defeat. You have your chance ; but I wouldn't give 
much for it." 

So William racked his brain. Inspiration did not 
help him ; — he was rather slow in planning, unassist- 
ed. He must think for Sally now ; not by her, nor 
with her. Hitherto she had been as a battery whence 
the spark proceeds. The thing now was to commu- 
nicate to her the kindling fire — not receive it from 
her. 

After a period of incessant and determined endeav- 
ors, most mortals are enabled to see their way clear 
through ordinary fog. William bethought him of the 
island where, in his early youth, he found such days 
of joy ; and one afternoon he went down there alone 
to reconnoitre. It lay there still, smiling in solitude; 
an island, three miles in length, furnished with rocks 
and bushes, a solitary pine-tree, and a solitary cabin,' 
built long ago, in days when parties of pleasure used 



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